When should there be which kind of technology assessment? A plea for a strictly problem-oriented approach from the very outset

Poiesis and Praxis 7 (1-2):117-133 (2010)

Technology assessment is generally classified as problem-oriented and thus transdisciplinary research. This is due to the fact that the aim of TA is to work out solutions for problems outside science in order to offer advice to its addressees, namely those working in politics and science and members of society in general. In this paper, we propose that the problem-oriented approach also be used as the basis for the decision regarding when a TA should be conducted in a particular situation, and which TA should be used. As a first step to this end, a broad range—almost like a kind of coarse radar—and large number of topics or problem sketches are created, which then serve as a basis for a discursive process of negotiation, during which topics are to be carried over into a detailed problem analysis. These detailed problem analyses, which are important for transdisciplinary research, represent in themselves small research projects. They provide, in addition, some initial indications for a methodologically promising project design. The methodological approach described here is currently being tested in a procedure in which TA topics are being monitored for the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
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DOI 10.1007/s10202-010-0074-6
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